Interview by Adrian Day
Women’s Skateboarding has never been more exciting. The ladies have climbed up against a plethora of societal and male dominated odds and have taken charge. Lizzie Armanto is at the front of this charge and comes across as humble and thoughtful, which further solidifies her place at the top of skateboarding. We got to talk a little about etiquette, the loop and tough crowds. She can also take a slam!
So [Jeff] Grosso seems to look out for you – is he a kind of big brother type figure to you?
He’s my friend, I feel like – I met him at Combi [pool]. I learned how to skate in Santa Monica but when I started going to Combi is when I really learned how to skate. And there were sessions there and he would go. I met him and we were just friends – he was actually the person who got me on Vans. Like you said he’s a thinker and fun to talk to and he’s helped me get my foot in the door for a lot of things, and he always gives good advice for all the things I’m going through. Like even getting on companies or doing whatever, he’s been through all the stages. He turned pro at one point to every step of the way, he’s been there.
I asked him last night who his favourites were to win [VPS Malmo] and he mentioned that you’re friends and he’s backing you.
Yeah and it’s fun to skate with him.
I suppose when you started there wasn’t that many people skating the Combi, like pool skating wasn’t so big –
No I just mean in general.
Well my first contest was Pro-Tec Pool Party and that was the biggest bowl event of the year, so the month leading up to it it was always packed, so I grew up skating those sessions and a lot of that shaped me as a skateboarder.
Like being able to deal with the pressure aspect and crowds?
Just skating a session and basically learning with all the top transition skaters, pool skaters, bowl skaters. They’d all go skate that event and so I was learning how to skate and I would have to figure out a way to [laughs] – like I wanted to skate the bowl too and so I would just try to hang. Even though I’m not as good and not doing anything close to the same things, I would wait my turn and go, and there’d be a snake session and so when you went, like it’s not easy. But when you do get your turn you’re like ‘I wanna do this, I’m going’. I like sneak my way into there and everyone respects it, until you fall and then you hustle out the bowl.
So it’s a good learning curve or schooling.
And you learn etiquette. Like even today at the skatepark, in this contest, a lot of the girls have no skateboarding etiquette. ‘Cos they didn’t grow up skating the sessions I did. A lot of them are just learning.
And that etiquette has to come from the older guard.
It drives me insane where girls do stuff that is not a part of that. Like if you put your board on the coping while someone else is going, it’s just like – to me it’s insane, ‘cos has no one told them? And then other girls are like, ‘Oh yeah, I didn’t wanna say anything’, and it’s like why not? It’s gonna help them, and they don’t wanna look dumb – I don’t think they wanna look dumb. So it’s you being a good person to them, like “Hey, you should not put your board on the coping when other people are going. It’s rude”.
There are decent ways to go about it.
Yeah you don’t have to be lame about it. It’s being courteous.
Photo – Acosta
So you just did the loop – how many tries did that take you?
Without the pads it was 5 or 6.
I just wonder, because I’ve never spoken to anyone who has done the loop –
Yeah you have!
Well Jeff [Grosso] yeah, but we didn’t talk about it. But is there a kind of feeling where the transition is never going to end? Like you get lost in there?
I mean, during the whole thing I was trying not to think, aside from figuring out what I needed to do. Towards the end there was one part… Ok in the beginning when I was first trying I would just go up and then look for the pads. Go up, look for the pads. But then towards the end of it, I started to make sense of what part was what, and in the end, I was like – I remember skating and there’s a part where it’s sky ramp sky. Even though the whole part – it’s all one.
You must be stoked that you got to do it – it’s a big one.
Yeah I’m definitely… I’m surprised. Going in to the weekend I did not think that was going to happen.
You knew you were gonna try it though?
Yeah, so years ago Tony asked me if I wanted to do a loop. He was like “You can do it”, but I was like “Oh I dunno, if you bring it out I’ll see.” And he was like, “Ah I dunno, people who do the loop are people that know about it and are I’M GONNA DO THIS!”. And that was not my approach. And when I got there I remember thinking that until I go down the roll-in and try I can’t make a call on it. Because just looking at it by itself you’re like what the fuck. It’s scary, it’s huge. It’s seven foot tranny, so it stands 14ft tall and the roll-in is above it. And so just standing at the roll-in, looking at a wall that has no ending, essentially, it’s a huge mental block. It’s so much more mental than physical. I don’t think you need a transition background to skate the loop. I think a lot of my friends who skate street would be able to do it because of their mentality. There’s nothing in skateboarding that prepares you for that.
I saw you knee-sliding upside down at 12 ‘o Clock.
That was my first go. I didn’t know that I bailed that way! At what point I bailed, I didn’t know.
I see you’ve got some new Vans colourways coming out. Did you have a lot of input on that?
Yeah, I did. The one that’s out right now, I knew what I wanted and we did a version of that. I got to pick the colours and I was trying to figure out how I wanted it. I wanted it embroidered and I wanted it suede. It’s me but then not too… the whole thing is kinda simple but then I know it’s not.
And there’s the two new ones coming up? Purple colourways?
Yeah the purple collection. There’s this purple slip-on and it has reflective checkers on it, and then I have a high top [Sk8-Hi] coming out with the reflective checkers.
They’re still a while away though right?
I’m not sure when they’re coming out. I just shot for them though so I assume it must be coming out sooner than later, because last time we did the other ones they came out not too long after.
Is there a lot of sisterhood within women’s skateboarding? Like skateboarders, we’re all friends, but do you feel a special kind of bond?
With the girls?
Yeah, or does it get weird because it’s competitive as well?
I think the women’s side has a different feel to it because at times it gets really intense and cut-throat with the women, and it’s in a different sense to the mens. It’s different than the mens where everyone drops in and is going and just a known thing. I guess it feels personal when you’re skating with the women, but at the same time like depending on the mood, sometimes it’s really light.
How was it today [Vans Park Series Malmo]?
I feel like there was a bit of nervousness in the air. There were girls practicing but then there were times where the bowl was completely empty and I think people were trying to save themselves, like save their energy and be strategic. I knew for myself I was trying to take it as easy as I can, because I slammed pretty hard the other day.
Yeah I wanted to ask about that.
I skated yesterday for the first time since I slammed. I basically waited until the last bit of time to skate and in the meantime just been trying to take care of myself.
I spoke to the rehab guy and he said you were in there 3 times a day.
Yeah I’m trying to get worked on as much as I can without upsetting my body – ‘cos you can do too much.
How are you feeling now? Did you hit your head?
No I didn’t. I caught it in my shoulder I think, and my elbow and shoulder took the brunt of it.
It was a rough one.
Yeah it was shitty. Clipping always sucks. I stopped doing backside air disasters because I don’t think my body can take that many more – at the time there was like a couple of months where every so often I’d just hang up and it would usually be on vert and it just catapults you into the ground.
But you don’t have any of that fear for straight backside airs?
No because you’re not trying to dance with the coping at that point.
So skateboarding is a lot about image, it doesn’t matter how good you are sometimes. Do you feel that’s important for women in skateboarding. You’ve got a few different women with their own approaches, like a Leticia Bufoni or a Lacey Baker. Do you think it’s important for women to get their own personal style through? Because it’s quite polar at points. Like maybe some girls might not like the way Leticia presents herself.
Everyone holds themselves differently, on and off the skateboard. And in skateboarding style matters. And then in the women’s side of things, sponsors and whatnot, I feel like marketing – it sucks to say but if you don’t know skateboarding you could be really good but no one is going to pay attention. It’s such a cliché in that sense, but at the same time you have to express yourself. I dunno, you just have to do what you think is right, and what feels good to you. I think if you’re over the top about anything, and you’re so formulated and whatnot, skateboarders especially will see right through that, and I think that’s why so many people like skateboarding, because it’s so opinionated and skateboarders are not afraid to eat their own, in the sense that if you’re a skateboarder and then you try to do something wack, everyone will just pick you apart.
It’s a tough crowd.
It is! But that’s what’s so beautiful about it too, because in other stuff like Hollywood things, there’s no bullshit-meter. The skateboarding bullshit-meter is so high, but I think it helps build you as a person, and it makes you think about everything you do. It should make you think about meaning.
Catch the first ever Vans Park Series Women’s African Continental Championships this Saturday at The Shred Skatepark.